Guest Blog Post – 6 ways Cloud Native software is shaking up EdTech
A guest blog post for The Edtech Podcast by Stephen Bilboe, CEO of WCBS | Twitter: @sbilboe1; @WCBSMIS
Over the past few years our expectations of technology have changed rapidly; whether that be next day delivery for our online purchases, instant visibility of our transactions on our bank account (often before the receipt has been handed to us), or fast, beautiful software that gives a seamless user experience, rarely requiring detailed training. Think of the smartphone in your pocket and the apps you use on a daily basis for everything from news updates to food delivery.
The investment and disruption we have seen across other sectors, such as consumer finance with the likes of Monzo, Starling, Revolut, Freetrade and more, challenging the incumbents with differentiated business models and first-class user experiences, has thus far not filtered through to that 10x better technology and user experiences in software for schools.
1. Cloud Native not web-based
Cloud Native technology is shaking up EdTech and bringing with it the investment and disruption, especially to management information systems, that the industry needs.
It is far different to web-based or cloud-based software; often just old on-premise software which has been moved to the cloud. Cloud Native software enables you to outsource and commoditise the infrastructure, allowing you to focus on delivering value-added features instead of wasting valuable engineering time on hardware: it takes full advantage of the cloud service model.
2. Schools can work smarter not harder
Cloud Native technology can be built on read and write API, which enables schools to not only save time but also, to gain insights on where they invest time in the future.
By automatically updating data across systems, schools reduce the need for rekeying, therefore giving back precious time to not only administrators but also teachers, allowing them to focus on the classroom. Through using EdTech built on read and write API, schools choose best of breed solutions and remove the need for compromise.
This next generation of EdTech with Cloud Native software built on API brings a unique level of configuration, and for data to be safely opened. Schools can learn from anonymous aggregated data showing detailed analyses. This allows schools, especially those when focussing on admissions, for example, to see which sources and channels have been most effective in the past, what the forecast is for upcoming years, and how they can give themselves the best chance of increasing this (along with their revenue!)
3. Improves schools’ security
Hopefully, something you never have to deal with, but what happens if there is a crisis and your school needs to revert to an old version of your data?
Sometimes mistakes happen, crises occur and information can be corrupted or lost. In most systems, a daily backup will have been scheduled and taken (automatically or manually depending on the nature of your software) and schools will be forced to rewind to a specific and non-negotiable moment in time following a crisis. During data recovery, it’s common for older systems to be inaccessible for many hours, or even days whilst the last coherent backup is restored.
Cloud Native EdTech provides any point in time recovery, allowing you to rewind to a point of your choosing. Back-ups and data retention are built into the systems, meaning that you can always revert to a version seconds before the crisis occurred. No data loss, no heartache, and no clearing up any mess; schools can get back to focussing on teaching in minutes, with pretty much zero data loss and server downtime.
4. Small incremental updates
Cloud Native software can constantly improve through regular incremental updates: no more waiting weeks or even months for bug fixes. These platforms allow software providers to be agile when it comes to releases, and this means new code roll-outs to all users can happen instantly, with zero downtime.
Unlike when using older technology, schools will no longer have to manually install updates or worry that it may cause further bugs down the line. With automatic updates, your software will stay current and in line with legislative changes.
5. Losing the internet no longer means losing work
With more of us working remotely, we can no longer assume that employees have the same reliable internet connection as your school.
We’ve all been in that situation, where we have spent hours inputting data or filling in a form online, only for our internet to then drop out and all our work to be lost. This won’t happen with Cloud Native software.
Potential issues from the number of users accessing at a single time, and speed restrictions due to poor connectivity, are also vastly reduced, enabling your school to carry on functioning effectively when working from home.
6. An intuitive UX (User Experience) means schools save time on money and training
Next-Gen EdTech built on the newest platforms from the ground up means that if the best designers have been employed, they ensure that tools have been placed where they need to be and not where they have to be, so software is intuitive to use.
This means not just teachers, but cover teachers alike can pick up the software quickly and easily without the need for training. But that’s not the only benefit of a well-designed UX: if the software is easier to use, then it’s more likely to be used.
If a tool is clunky and frustrating, rather than logging important notes immediately, staff members have a tendency to wait until the end of the day (or even longer) with the chance that some information is not recorded. User experience is so important to encourage adoption, and the easier events are to log, the faster they can be reviewed and escalated.
What is WCBS doing about it?
At WCBS we believe that EdTech should not be a commodity item, but instead add significant value in aiding a school to deliver better outcomes for pupils.
It’s through the next generation of technology we are able to really change the EdTech game, not only by providing a better user experience, or deeper integration but also by making the most of data. Internally this is one of the areas we are most excited to explore and refer to as Data and Insight.
WCBS released HUBmis in October 2020, with our latest addition, HUBadmissions launching this year, and HUBincome following in Autumn 2022. After investing £5 million over 3 years, built from the ground up with the user in mind, the HUB platform is the most technologically advanced and secure for international and independent schools.
Find out more about the future of MIS here: https://www.wcbs.co.uk/hubmis-uk/
About Stephen Bilboe, CEO of WCBS
Stephen is passionate about using technology to support schools with over ten years of experience in EdTech before joining WCBS in January 2019. As an effective leader, he focuses on building high performing teams providing a first-class customer experience. Stephen spends time outside of work with his wife and children, he enjoys watching cricket and playing golf when the sun is shining, and, as a qualified ski instructor, he likes to return to the mountains whenever possible.